Digitales2003 is calling for stories and texts about gender and technology. Different stories:
One often hears that girls are not interested in technical things because they are too cold and too systematic, but what about telling them that one of the pioneers of computing wanted to create a machine that would enable him to contact his lost loved one and that he died like Snow White after eating a poisoned apple : isn’t that a beautiful fairy tale?
That’s certainly a different way of telling Turing’s story. Do any of you know more about the lost loved one and how he hoped to contact him through his machines? (via Hilde)
4 thoughts on “different stories”
Well, Cryptonomicon tells a tale along those lines, but I didn’t know how much of it was Stephenson’s literary license, and how much was fact.
When Anne Moir, a biologist, told one of her friends she was preparing “Brainsex”, a book for non specialists that summarises the enormous amount of readily available evidence which helps explain how and why male and female brains are different, she was cautioned against the dangers of writing such a book.
Since no one seems to read it, her friend’s fears proved overstated. Sadly, this obvious starting point for understanding WHY there may be differences between the sexes is “out of bounds”. The current fad is to insist on pretending nature plays no significant role, and then try to assign everything to nurture.
Once the zeitgeist assigned everything to nature, which was just as absurd; but then they had the excuse of the evidence not being as clear and convincing as it was by Moir & Jessel’s time.
I think that the thing about contacting a lost one via machines is entirely made up.
I recently read Martin Davis: “The Universal Computer” (2000) which describes the history of the computer as mathematical development from Leibniz, Boole, Frege, Cantor, Hilbert, Gˆdel, to Turing. Aa Davis describes it, the Turing machine is a theoretical construct used to prove that you cannot make an algorithm for solving the entscheidungsproblem (whether a given proposition can be proven according from a set of premises – if I understand it correctly :).
The Turing reference is “On Computable Numbers with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem” (1936).
There appears to be no reference to communication anywhere in this – is it really doing anybody any good to make up these things? Imagine the disappointment of someone (regardless of sex) who like fairy tales but dislikes math & logic when they get to look at what computer science is actually like.
Or imagine the people who like math & logic but dislikes fairy tales who are turned away from computer science due to a misleading story like this one…